Here We Go Again…

Here we go again

I feel like I’m back to where I started. I was making progress and I was pretty sure I finally knew where God was leading me. Things were starting to fall into place and my life was beginning to take on a new direction. But then it all ended. Just like that, I am back where I started. Here I am again, not sure what God is doing in my life. The return of feeling lost and lonely have also been overwhelming.

I keep crying out to God, my desire isn’t bad. I simply want to fall in love and be in love again. I long to have someone in my life who will love me and who I can love in return. I’m tired of this waiting game and there are times when I literally feel like I can hear the clock slowly ticking ticking away. Is it not wrong that I just want to start a family together before I get much older and find myself in love again. I wish I could tell my past to stop coming back to my mind and reminding me of everything I lost.

Yes, I’m here again. I’m sad and struggling again with feeling depressed and it doesn’t help that I’ve also been recovering from Covid. My body has just been so weak and tired and I’m finally starting to get back to some sort of normal again. But the fatigue from Covid is no joke.

Maybe I need to take more time to look on the bright side some more. I’ve been here before so I know I can get through another hard season of waiting. I’m still young, even though I’m over halfway through my twenties. Yes, I didn’t get a love story when I wanted it (right out of highschool would’ve been prefurred) but I’m still in my twenties and still young. There is still plenty of time for God to write me a love story so that I can raise a family someday. I have a family that loves me and supports me even when I feel lost. They provide for me and don’t pressure me to leave even through I wish I could’ve been out starting my own home already. And I know I have a God who loves me still and is with me. God has a plan for everything I walk through even this. Somehow writing out these things helps me to stay focused.

So yes, here I am again. I know I’m not over this yet and I still have many hard days ahead. But I will not lose heart. I will keep moving forward and keep waiting on God.

The other day, I felt so lost but I was listening to the song “It is well.” I suddenly felt overwhelmed and tears flowed down my cheeks. I verbally said out loud to God – “Okay, God, If I never fall in love and get married, it is well with my soul. It is well.” And that’s how I want to end this post. As much as I want God to bring these things into my life, I can’t demand them. I can’t make them work with the wrong people. So I am learning to say that it is well, it is well with my soul, whatever the path the Lord takes me down.

But I’m not gonna lie, a little direction would sure be nice.

A Desire to be Held

I have a ache in my heart

I long to be loved, and cherished and held. For awhile now I’ve praying each day that God would bring a guy into my life, in His timing of course, who will show me true Godly love and who will cherish everything about me. I desire a man who truly loves God first above all other things and who will be open and honest instead of hiding things. A man who won’t hurt me, but will hold me.

And as I’ve been thinking about all these things I remembered that a few years ago I wrote a few things down on my phone about this desire I have to be held. So I thought I’d share the reflections and scripture verses I wrote down with you today:

“Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!”

Psalm 119:117

I read this psalm the other day and all I can think about are the words “hold me”. They just stood out to me. The psalmist is experiencing a season of hardship and here he is crying out to God saying “hold me, that I may be safe.”

I find that there are times in my life where I want to be held. I don’t have a man in my life to hold me and let me just be honest with you all, it can be hard some days. There is a strong ache in my heart for someone to hold me and tell me it’s gonna be okay. I want to be re-assured everything will be okay, that I’ll be safe, and that I don’t have to worry. To simply have strong arms wrap around me tightly and promise to never let me go. To often I find myself getting sad, because, as a single girl, I feel left out.

But, I saw something as I read this psalm. I realized that God will hold me when I am feeling sad. When I cry out to God in my need He comes and comforts me. He cradles me with his love and says he will never leave me.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

When God holds me, I know I’m safe. The safest place for me to be is in His arms. God’s arms are strong and He can protect me from all my troubles and all the evils of the world.

“Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7

So, I just wanna say, that it’s okay to desire to be held. It’s actually quite normal. We were created to have this desire in us. But we must be careful so that we don’t end up looking for it in the wrong places. My desire to be held should lead me to God – my loving heavenly father who will never stop lavishing me in His love.

Do you desire to be held? Even if you have someone to hold you on your hard days, you will never be able to find perfect rest in anyone other than God. When that desire comes, take it to God. Ask him to hold you and then rest in his great love for you.

Oh, what a beautiful thing, that our great God holds us! He will sustain us through whatever season we face. I’m gonna cry out to him just like the psalmist did in this passage. Will you do so too?

“Cast your burden on the Lord , and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Psalm 55:22

In God’s timing and in God’s way, I still pray that God will bring me a Godly man to love me. But as I wait I want to find my worth in God. God cherishes me like no man here on earth can. God loves me better than any human could. God will never hurt me like the relationships here on earth do. God is the one who holds me and I’m so thankful for this truth.

Demanding a Blessing

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Genesis 32:26

I’ve started doing something new…

Whenever I sit down and start praying to God and praying for my future, I’ve started a new habit. It’s a new way of praying. I’ve started, in way, almost demanding a great blessing from God. Not in a selfish way and expecting things to be done in a certain way. But rather it’s like a way for me to say; I trust you so much God and I know that there is going to be a great blessing on the other side of this season, so I am going to start praying for it. It reassures my heart in a unique way when I begin praying hard for that blessing that I know God has for me.

My prayers have gone from something like: “God I know you have good things instore for me and your plans are for me. Help me to trust you…” to “God, I pray that you will blow my mind with how great your blessing is for me! I have given up so much for you, God so I come to you and ask that you will give me something even greater in return! God help me to stay faithful to you as I wait!”

My mind thinks back to the story of Jacob and to the night when he wrestled with God. Right before the “angel of the Lord” left, Jacob clung onto Him and demanded He bless him. He said he wouldn’t let go until he got a blessing. And you know what, Jacob didn’t get rebuked, he got a blessing!

I find myself coming to the conclusion that God must be pleased when we as His children ask for good things from Him. Our good, good father loves to bless His children and there is no good thing that he withholds from us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

Praying in this way, and confidently asking for God’s good blessing as we take the steps of obedience, is a way to grow in our faith. It’s a way to take trusting in Him one step further. If you desire God’s blessing but find yourself in a season of waiting or hurting, let me challenge you to give this type of prayer a try. Find a blessing of God, hold onto it, and pray it for you life. Don’t waver in your belief that God will bless you, pray with confidence that God will bless you beyond what you can imagine. But also keep in mind as your praying, in order for God to bless you in this way, you need to keep holding onto him, keep following him in your season, and give God time to work. The blessing is coming!

Every Season

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Have you ever heard it said before that life is a gift?

Life truly is such a beautiful gift from our Heavenly father. But lately I’ve found myself thinking a little bit deeper about this idea of life being a gift. Yes, life is gift, but I want to also say that each season we walk through in this life is a gift.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how everyone’s life is different. Some people get married young, some people end up waiting for many years. Some people have children right away while others don’t. I went from almost being married to suddenly being single again and for awhile I really struggled with being back in this season. I felt so many emotions and the last thing I wanted was to see being back in this season as gift. I will admit, I struggled with many bitter thoughts about those who seemed to be getting what I wanted. But slowly, God’s been working on my heart and I’m starting to see now the place God has me at truly is a sweet place. I deeply long for the next season in my life to start but I am finally able to see now that each one of these seasons we go through is a gift.

For the single girl, these years we have alone are a such sweet gift. We get to draw closer to our Lord and Savior during this time and serve him with pure devotion. We can serve God in ways that those who are married can’t. The time we spend single, however long, is a gift from God. It’s so easy for us to look at those married and become bitter. We tend to view them as the ones receiving God’s gift and blessing without realizing that our single years are also a blessed gift. When the timings right God will bring us to the next stage, but let us not miss all the good that is awaiting for us in this season of being single.

And for those who married young, you also have been given a gift. God wrote you a beautiful love story and allowed you grow alongside your man while you were still young. You have been given something that many singles have longed for, so cherish the gift you were given. It was always my desire to get married young and when it didn’t happen I had to wrestle with all the pangs of disappointment in my heart. For a while I felt myself growing bitter and I would try to find ways in mind to prove that it is better to stay single. But I can see now that whether God calls some to be single longer, and some to marry young, both are good gifts that come from God. Our job is simply live our best life for God in whichever season he has called us too.

And I also want to say that for the ones waiting to have a family, you’re season is a gift. God has asked you to rely on him in greater ways as you walk with Him through your waiting. Cherish the closeness you have with God during this season. Just like being single, it’s to easy to see what others have and become bitter. You may see many friends starting families and getting what you desire. But remember that their season is also a gift from God and it is the path God has called them to walk which is unique to them.

So, as you can see, I’m starting to realize that each season, not just life, is a gift. A gift is not something you can make happen. You don’t buy yourself your own gift, that just simply is not how the art of gift giving works. A gift is something that can only be given. If God has called you to wait longer than others, don’t view it as something to be despised. Realize that it is a gift. Serving God in your time of waiting is as much of a gift as receiving the things you desire.

This may be a cheesy way to end this post, but the quote from Lord of the Rings when Gandalf is talking to Frodo is running through my head right now – “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Whatever your situation or season, choose to see it as the beautiful gift that it is. Once you can view it in this way you can truly live out your calling and make the best use of the time that God has given you here on earth.

I Am Joseph

What is the right response to suffering?

This question has been on my mind a lot lately and God has been so gracious each time my heart has a question like this one to guide me to the right answer and example in scripture. In my Bible study, we are still working our way through Genesis. I’ve talked about Abraham, Job, Jacob, and even David on this blog. Are you ready for the next Bible character that I’m finding myself in. If you know your bible, you may be able to guess which one comes next. It’s Joseph! And oh boy, what an amazing story is Joseph’s story. It’s a story full of unfair and unjust suffering, but one that is overflowing with God’s goodness and good purposes!

I’m not gonna lie to you, I’ve kinda created a new little saying that I keep telling myself each day. I’ve been saying “I am Joseph”. As I read the story of Joseph and look at my life, I keep finding myself saying “I am Joseph”. In my Bible study, we were discussing the life of Joseph and the sudden onset of suffering he faced. Joseph went from being the most favored/spoiled child to becoming a slave all in less than a day. I was thinking to myself, “wow, I wonder what it must have felt like to have everything and then lose everything”. Then I literally felt like I had my eyes opened up to the fact that, that is my story. I saw an almost identical pattern in a way my life has been these past few months. Only months ago I was so happy. I was finally on the verge of all my dreams coming true. I was engaged and in the process of starting a life with someone and oh it was bliss. But then it ended so fast. One thing after another came to light and before i knew it, it was all gone.

I AM JOSEPH. I can feel the same hurt and pain and disappointment that he must have felt. All his dreams, gone. All his family and friends gone. His life suddenly taking a completely different route and an unwanted move to a new location. (Okay, wow, there really are a lot of similarities here, granted I still have my family and friends, but I moved to a new area and have been struggling to get connected so I do relate in a way to the loneliness and I do in a way also feel like I lost a family because how close I became to his family).

There really is not a lot of good happening in Joseph’s story, but if you keep reading the story of Joseph there is something very encouraging. It is said at least three times in the book of Genesis that God was with Joseph. In each season of suffering Joseph faced, Joseph had every right to complain and despair. Maybe he did at times, but the Bible never mentions it. Instead Joseph rose to the top of every situation he found himself in. He was greatly blessed and God gave him success in all he did. Even as a slave Joseph rose to high favor. And let me tell you something, you cannot rise to favor if all you ever do is complain about how bad your luck has been.

I imagine Joseph must have known that God was with him. How else could he have had the faith to keep on going without despairing. His pain had to have been great. And I’m not saying he no longer felt the pain and hurt that his brothers inflicted on him. Later in Genesis Joseph says “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” So obviously, his pain during this time was constantly on his mind. But what Joseph shows us here is how to rightly respond when suffering happens and we have no control over it. We must get up and keep going. We have the choice to either wallow in our self pity and despair, or make the best out of whatever situation we find ourselves in. I’ve gotta believe that when we choose the latter, God truly blesses it, just like he blesses Joseph.

God blessed Joseph and gave him favor in each place he found himself in. In Potiphar’s house, he rose to leadership. In prison, he rose to leadership. Then, lastly, in Pharaoh’s kingdom, he rose to leadership. None of these places Joseph found himself in were places he wanted to be. In fact, if he had the choice to go back to his family, I’m sure he would take it without even looking back. I can tell you that there are definitely times in my life that I wish I could just go back to those happy days and forget about the pain. But I have no control over the place I’m in right now which is why Joseph’s story has been so encouraging to me. I’m learning from Joseph’s story that God’s will for me in this season is to keep on trusting Him and to find ways to keep on serving Him even while I’m hurting.

I also want to talk a bit about the end of Joseph’s story. As I’m sure you are familiar with how in the story of Joseph we get to see how all his suffering would one day make sense and play a role in God’s amazing plan. God used Joseph to be the means of saving many nations, including Israel, from a devastating famine. Joseph became a great leader in Egypt, a wise man who was full of integrity. But if he became a ruler in Egypt right away without first spending years as a slave and in prison, I don’t believe he’d be the same ruler. God was using the hard seasons of suffering in his life to teach him how to be humble and also how to lead and manage other people. When God’s time was right, Joseph was given one of the most coveted positions in all Egypt. Truly, Joseph was finally able to say that God had taken all his sorrow away.

I think that it’s so encouraging to see how God was using Joseph’s suffering to position him in the right place at the right time to bring provision to God’s people. God was preparing Joseph for something greater. And that is what God is doing when we suffer! God is preparing us for something bigger, better, and greater. God is using all the suffering in our life for his good purposes. Often times, like Joseph, we can’t see the whole picture of what God is doing while we are in the middle of it. Maybe all we see is the pain and unending waiting. But we can hold onto the truth that God is going to work all things out our for good and God will be with us, as He was with Joseph.

So yes, I am Joseph! And maybe as you look at your life, you are Joseph too. Maybe God has brought sudden or unjust suffering into your life. The big question to ask yourself then is “what is my response?” Remember, it’s okay to feel hurt and pain. In fact, if you don’t feel any pain as you suffer I’d be worried that something is wrong with you. What really matters the most is what you do with the hurt? Do you dwell on it and let it lead you to despair. Or do you get up and keep on chasing after God and serving him in the place your at, trusting that God is going to do something great through it.

Let us hold onto the truth that God is always with us through every trial we face. Every season of suffering has a purpose that we may not be able to see until the time is right. But we can know this, God is taking us down these hard paths because he wants to prepare us and make us into something greater! God’s purposes for your life are so much greater than whatever it is you have lost, so let’s be like Joseph and keep on suffering well in this life!

A Poem from the Past

I found something the other day.

I was looking for an empty journal and came across some of my old journals. I can get lost whenever I find my journals. It’s such a weird feeling reading through my thoughts from years ago. As I was scanning through one of my very first journals I found a little poem that I wrote all the way back in 2015. Of course when I wrote that poem then, I had no idea that future me would still be in this season of waiting.

Stumbling upon this little poem has encouraged my heart greatly and reminded me so much of how God’s ways truly are best. Even though I’m still waiting for the things my heart desires most, I can rest in knowing that God is working for me and not against me. God’s timing will be better. This little poem from my past reminded me of that truth.

So here’s the little poem, I called it “Why, Why?”

I keep asking why, why?
Why does this keep happening to me
Why am I not where I want to be

I keep asking when, when?
When will I understand my life
When will it all make sense to me

I keep asking how, how?
How will it come together in the end
How can I make any sense out of this

I keep asking and asking
You keep listening and listening
All is silent
Then I hear you

You keep saying trust, trust
Trust in My plan for you
Trust that I know what I’m doing

You keep saying wait, wait
Wait and it will soon make sense
Wait and you will be rewarded

So I say yes, yes
Yes your plan is best for me
Yes I will trust you and wait patiently

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

Ebb and Flow

You wanna know the honest truth about life in the hard seasons?

One day you may feel amazing and so happy. You reach these highs and have the fullest sense of peace and joy. And then the next day you are back in the valley. Feelings of hurt, sadness, disappointment, and grief are back. A few days ago I knew I was right in the will of God. I felt so much peace and joy in Christ. I knew exactly what God was leading me to do and I did it. Now as the gravity of what I did sinks in, I’m somewhat surprised to find myself feeling kinda sad again.

This idea has been in my head the past few days. Feelings Ebb and flow. They come and they go. We feel good and happy one day and then we feel sad again and that’s normal. The more I walk down this long path of uncertainty and surrendered desires, I’m realizing that I can’t always trust any of my feelings. My feelings would have lead me down a dark and hard road if I followed them.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to feel certain ways. I can’t always stop myself from feeling happy or sad. I can’t change my circumstances either. But I find this to be helpful. When I’m in the valley, there is one thing I can change. I can change my view. I choose to acknowledge my feelings and then I take them to God. I remind myself that God is with me and He is the one who lead me to this valley. When I look to God instead of my feelings I find peace in knowing that God has a purpose for each and every hard season I walk through. I find strength in the unchanging nature of God that gives me clarity over all of my changing feelings.

So all I’m trying to say in this post is that feelings ebb and they flow. If you felt so happy and content in God one day and then your down in the dumps again the next day, don’t stress yourself out. God is still with you even though your feelings may have changed. Choose to set your eye’s back on God when the days get hard again. Find comfort in God who is your Rock. Don’t forget all the ways he is leading you and caring for you and choose to trust that he will keep leading you and caring for you. The place your at and even the feelings you experience all have a good and perfect place in God’s plan for your life. Choose to walk with God through the good feelings and the bad ones, understanding that they will ebb and flow, and that’s okay.

Unfulfilled Desires

Do you have any unfulfilled desires? What do you do with them?

These past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about unfulfilled desires. It seems we all have something in our life that we want but God has said no or not yet. The other day I was seeking counsel from a dear friend and she asked me a hard question. She asked me how much of my wanting this relationship to work has been me just simply wanting to have a relationship. Ever since I was a young girl I’ve had the desire to get married and start a family. It’s always been my biggest unfulfilled desire. It’s also been the hardest thing to surrender to God. The more time I spent thinking over this question the more I realized how much my desire really has played a role in my decision making.

Let me tell you all, I’ve been doing some deep heart searching this past week and it’s been hard. I’ve come to realize my desires aren’t wrong. Marriage and a family is a good thing to desire. Whatever it is your waiting for, if God says no, it doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing to desire. We often forget that God has plans for us that we can’t see. God’s timing is always going to be best for us. But making these desires come about with our own method will not lead to the blessing God desires to give us.

I believe that I’ve been desiring certain good things of God so much that I’ve allowed it to cloud over my vision and cause me to make poor judgments. I feel almost a bit ashamed of all the years I’ve spent chasing after something I wanted so bad when I can see clearly now that God is saying not yet, wait longer. So I decided that I needed to come to terms with these unfulfilled desires that I have been letting rule my life. I talked to God about the desires of my heart. Instead of just surrendering to God my relationship I also gave to him my desires for marriage and a family. I told God that I desire this good thing, but I desire it to be from Him. I desire God to lead me to it in His timing and in His perfect way.

I didn’t feel better right away. My desire is still here and still very strong. But God did give me his peace and I can feel God slowly working on my heart and putting this desire back in it’s rightful place. I’ve also come to realize that I’m quite content right now being single and growing in my walk with God during this season. Honestly, those are words I never thought I’d hear myself saying.

As I continued to think about all these unfulfilled desires we have, this question crossed my mind; What are we supposed to do you with these unfulfilled desires? I didn’t have to think hard to find the answer. You do the only thing you really can do. You just keep following God with all your heart. You keep trusting that God truly does know what’s best for you and the path your on is His will for you. This really is the only way for God to bring us to a place where we can truly be ready to receive the good things that we desire. It allows us to rest knowing he will bring it to us in His timing and He is all we need in the seasons of waiting that we must walk through first.

Lastly, as I finish up my thoughts on unfulfilled desires, I find myself thinking of Paul in one of his letters. In Romans 1:10 Paul says – “and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.” Paul had unfulfilled desires. He had been desiring to go to Rome for some time, but the Lord was not opening the door for him to go. Even though Paul wanted to go to Rome, he never took action to make it happen. He stayed where he was called and served God with all his heart. Finally, when the timing was right, God took him to Rome in chains.

When the timing is right God will bring our desires to fulfilment, and hopefully for us it won’t also entail being in chains, as it did for Paul. But like Paul, while we are waiting for the God’s timing, we can keep on serving God and pursuing the calling that God us in the place we are in right now.

When You’re Stuck

Do you ever just feel stuck

Well, that’s how I feel right now. Stuck. I feel stuck whenever I think about the future and try to decide in my mind what I should do. My life feels stuck right now, not moving forward, and not moving backward, just staying here. When I try to think about the decisions ahead of me, all I feel is stuck.

But there’s been this idea running through my head that I keep coming back to. Not many people know that in my spare time I manage a blog for a christian adventure camp. I work on their blog about an hour a week and I post a blog post every two weeks. The last post I wrote for them was on how to make wise decisions. And the post I wrote has just been running non-stop through my mind during this time that I feel stuck. So I thought, why not share it here too, of course, I’ll make a few changes to it so it fits better with my situation. It’s been helping me so much as I walk through this difficult season so I hope it can help you too.

So here you go! (Note: as you read this it might be helpful for you know that it is a rafting camp I work at and I have been a river guide at that camp for the past two years. Also this idea is not my original idea, it came from a devotional book I’m reading by Lysa Terkeurst, I just gave it a river guide twist.)

The Process of Making Decisions

When you feel stuck what do you do? When it comes to discerning how to wisely make decisions, are we all on our own, or is there a tried and true formula to follow? Life is full of choices and opportunities.  Some choices are easy and some are hard.  Sometimes in life, we come to a place where we need to think hard about making a decision.  When we hit a crossroad and there two choices before us and new opportunities within reach, what are we supposed to do?  Should we jump right in and take the first opportunity that knocks on the door or do we wait?

In the devotional book I’m currently reading, this illustration was given; coming to a decision in life is like coming to the edge of a river.  The river represents the opportunity before us.  It may be tempting to jump right in without any thought and grab that new opportunity.  But when you jump into a river you don’t have any control.  I can tell you from experience that the current in the river will sweep you away with it as soon as you enter. If you decide you want out you will have to swim hard against the current to get out.  A nearly impossible task in strong currents.

Step one: Scout out the river

So what are you supposed to do? Before you jump into the river, you should stop and take a moment to survey the river.  You do not need to jump into the river to see which direction the river is going.  By simply looking ahead and taking notice of the current, you can learn a lot about what will happen once you jump in.  River guides are constantly doing this.  If a guide isn’t familiar with a river or a certain rapid, they will take the time to survey the water before going down.  This act of stopping to look ahead at the river is called scouting.  This helps guides to decide if the way the river is going is safe and what actions they should take before they go down.

As you survey the river before you, maybe you will see that the river is taking you somewhere you don’t want to go.  If you see that the opportunity will take you somewhere you really don’t want to go, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it or else you may find yourself swimming hard to get out later and it could have all been avoided if you simply stopped and scouted first.

Step Two: Ask experienced guides for advice

Another tactic that can help you in making a decision is asking other experienced people for help.  Whenever I go down the river I learn a lot from more experienced guides. I know that I am not as experienced as other guides and I don’t always trust my own judgment.  When I’m unsure about how to go down a rapid I will ask other guides what routes they take.  Seeking advice from more experienced guides helps me to safely maneuver down the river.

If there are people who know you well, consider asking them to survey the river with you.  They may see an obstacle that you didn’t see and give you counsel against jumping in.  Or they may confirm to you that this opportunity is a good fit for you and worth the risk of jumping in.  When it comes to decision-making, something you should never do is trust yourself.  There are times in life when you may have a gut feeling and you know without much thought what the right thing to do is.  Other times we need the help of others to search our hearts and learn what is the best path is for us.

Step 4: Know the Risks before jumping in

Once you jump in you can’t jump back out easily.  When I was learning how to guide it didn’t take me long to learn that swimming against the current is pointless.  When swimming in the river, river guides know to use the current to help them get to where they need to go, they will rarely swim against it unless absolutely necessary.  Jumping into the river is fun but it can also be full of danger and it’s important that we access these dangers before jumping in.

After you have scouted out the river and asked for advice and feel like you are ready to jump in and take that opportunity, one last thing to do is to evaluate what the dangers are.  What are the risks that might come up as you take this path?   If things go wrong somewhere along the way and the current starts taking you somewhere dangerous, what’s your plan to get out?  One thing that river guides are always scanning the river for are eddies.   Eddies are places where the water is actually moving back upstream.  When you are in the current and need to get out, you can swim into one of these eddies and it will keep you from being swept downstream.  So before you jump in, know where your eddies are, have your back-up plans ready for when you need them.

Step three: If it’s all clear, Jump in

Once you’ve done all these things and you have found this opportunity to be safe and a good move for you, then, by all means, jump in!   You can confidently jump into this opportunity knowing that this decision is going to lead you down a path that you can follow.  You have had confirmation from others who know you well that this new opportunity is good for you and you know what the all risks are and have your backup plan for if things go wrong. Or maybe you decide not to jump in, and that is okay too. There are some rapids river guides don’t ever attempt because they know they are too dangerous. If you deemed the opportunity not a good fit for you after going through all these steps, than you most likely are saving yourself from much struggle and heartache down the road.

I also want to note that there are times when God will ask us to jump into deep waters without going through all these steps.  When God asks us to jump in without hesitation, it’s a leap of faith for us and we can rest assured that God will be the one guiding us. 

Some concluding thoughts

And there it is. This is the post that has been running through my head and reminding me that all these steps are important to take whenever we feel stuck.

What step are you finding yourself in? At this point in my situation, I am finding myself in the middle of the first two steps. I will be here for a while. The waters before me are very rough and dangerous and I need a lot of time and help if I decide to jump in. So right now, I’m choosing to take some time to evaluate the water before me. I am not ready to jump in because I need to seek out counsel and learn more about where the river is going before I can make any sort of decision. I am also realizing that I may be stuck on the edge of this river for awhile. Only God knows when the time will be right to jump in, or if that time will ever come. But I’m not stuck when I remember that there many ways to take action and prepare myself for what is ahead. Taking my time and waiting is the wisest thing I can do right now.

I hope that if you ever feel stuck and have to make a difficult decision, you don’t forget how important these steps are. Prayerfully walk through each one and hopefully it will help you realize that in God’s great time table, you never truly are stuck.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you, when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, the flames shall not consume you ”

Isaiah 43:2

While You’re Waiting

When God says wait, what are you supposed to do?

I don’t think I am not the only who thinks it sometimes feels like pure torture to just do nothing and wait for God to work. When everything I want is out of my reach and still one big unknown. It’s enough to make me panic and feel stressed. Especially when I think that waiting could mean waiting a long time. It’s important to move on and keep taking steps forward, but I also realize that for me each step needs to be a tiny-micro-baby step. Otherwise my heart will just ache too much.

But if you find yourself in one of these extended periods of waiting, what can you do? I have found that there are a few simple things that have helped me stay calm and focused. These simple habits I’ve started doing as a result of my hurting heart have become so comforting to my soul. I want to share some of them with you all in hopes it’ll encourage you too 🙂

A consistent bedtime routine with a focus on scripture memory

The first helpful habit I started is journaling each night before I go to bed. I have tried many times to have a consistent bedtime journaling routine and failed. But because of how heavy my heart has been, I have found so much comfort in journaling a few thoughts before bed and it is finally a habit I do every night. I write four categories in my journal; “Verse“, “Reflection“, “Thankfulness“, and “Prayer and Confession“.

In the verse section I write out a verse to focus on. I have been using this as a tool for memorizing so I will pick a verse that goes with a passage I want to memorize. For example, I currently am working on Psalm 118 and each night I write one verse down. The next night I’ll do the next verse. In the reflection section I usually write down any thoughts about the day I just need to write out and put on paper. Often I’ll write things related to how I felt and how I am processing my hurt. Then in the thankfulness section I jot down a few things I’m thankful for from the day. Lastly in the prayer and confession section, I try to think about a way that I have not loved or followed God well. I write out a simple prayer of confession and ask God for help to do better the next day.

It takes me only about five minutes at the most to go through all these steps. Then when I turn out my lights and begin to get sleepy, I go over all the verses in my head and work on memorizing them until I fall asleep. I have noticed my sleep has improved so much when I fall asleep memorizing scripture. It’s really quite amazing! Memorizing scripture has always been something I struggle with and I’m so happy to have finally found a method that is working for me. It brings new meaning to the verse in psalms 63:6 – “When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.”

Long walks for praying and journaling

Walks have always been a way for me to unwind and process things. When I need to talk to God about the things on my heart I always go on a walk. I have started calling them prayer walks. I find so much relief in being able to talk outloud to God as I walk. Often times I will bring my journal with me on my walks. If I feel led I will find a pretty place to rest and write a few thoughts down in my journal. Often times I will write down song lyrics from my favorite worship songs.

When you are hurting, I highly encourage getting outside each day and going on a walk. It’s good for your physically health too. When we get overwhelmed by life it is too easy to let the sadness keep us from moving and making healthy choices. But something beautiful happens when we choose to pick ourselves up and move our bodies and talk to our Lord about how we feel.

Reading good biblical books

In this season God has me in, I have so much time on my hands and I need to keep my mind busy so I don’t’ sink back into my sad feelings. One thing that has helped is reading good books. Especially good biblical books that keep me focused on God. I have a dear friend who even mailed me a few christian books to read. I’m currently reading one she sent me by Paul Miller on the story of Ruth. I am loving the truths in this book so much. It speaks to my hurting heart. I try to read at least one or two chapters before I go to bed each night.

Other great books that I enjoy are books that talk about the attributes of God. I have really enjoyed the books that Jen Wilkin wrote on the attributes of God; “In His Image” and “None Like Him”. Tozer also has some books on the Attributes of God that are on my list to read soon.

Jamming to worship music

I have found that music does a lot to my mood. Listening to love songs is something I avoid right now. One of the best ways to lift my mood has been listening to worship music while working and driving in my car. The words of worship songs always speak to my heart in deep ways and remind me to keep seeking God. I will often break into a giddy little dance or smile ever so widely when the lyrics in a song hit my heart just right.

To be honest with you all though, I still listen to non-christian music on occasion, but I found myself shifting more and more to mainly christian songs because of the huge benefit it has on my soul.

Staying connected and attending a Bible study

Lastly, I want to say that it’s important to stay connected. When we go through hard seasons it can be so easy to shut ourselves up and keep ourselves isolated. Sharing is hard and it hurts. But we can never truly heal if we don’t let others into our life. I find so much encouragement from my weekly bible study. It has been such a foundation for me during this time.

I also have found so much love and support from others when I reach out to them and ask them to pray for me. There are a few people I will constantly reach out to and ask for prayer and share with them a little update on my situation. God gives us other people to help us get through these hard seasons. When we don’t reach out to those people in our live than we do a disservice to ourselves. We make our hurting heart take longer to heal. Because I just moved to a new area, I really feel a lack of good community in my life. I’m also not the best at creating a new community so I hold tightly onto the small community I still do have because It helps me remember that I am not alone and there are people who are praying for me still.

Okay, think I should think about ending this post soon. It has ended up being quite a bit longer than I had anticipated it to be. I could keep going on with the ways I have been learning to rely more on God and keep my focus on him. When I look back at all the ways God has been growing me through this hard season of waiting I am thankful. I’m thankful to see that God is faithful to me and he is using this time to help me develop Godly habits and rely wholly on Him. It’s still hard, but there is good in each day and I’m choosing to focus on that good. I pray these things will encourage you to keep chasing after God and let whatever it is your facing be a means for God to grow your faith.